Your first ideas regarding web development tools might be connected strictly with code: version control systems (e.g. GitHub, BitBucket), continuous integration software (CircleCI, Jenkins) or cloud application platforms (Heroku, DigitalOcean). But there’s a softer side to developing IT products, and these issues need dedicated solutions. Check out our quick guide to basic tools your company needs for smooth project flows and consistent growth on the industry market.
Agile project management tool
Project teams may vary by different factors, but there’s something in common between a 2- and 20-people team in Agile development services: you can’t perform well without thorough planning, frequent work updates and productivity tracking. A proper project management tool will include such features and make all the info accessible for anyone involved.
Your choice may depend on various factors, e.g. team size, clients’ involvement, your team’s experience, budget, and so on. Some tools, e.g. Trello or Asana, offer free plans (with limited members count or feature availability). But if you run a larger team, spend your tool budget wisely and make sure you have time and resources for a sensible setup - e.g. JIRA won’t configure itself overnight. From our experience at Clickray, Basecamp does its job perfectly well!
Time reporting tool
Keeping working time record from every person involved in a project is essential not only in the case of time and material pricing model. Even if you and your team sign fixed price contracts with clients, the necessity to track working time makes it easier to stay as productive as possible. From my own experience, I must say it’s extremely important to pick a tracking tool model that suits you best: real-time tracking (e.g. Toggl), iteration-based tracking (e.g. any Pomodoro technique tool) or time reporting (such as Tempo in JIRA). The Clickray team works with Harvest - how about you? Just try a bit of everything!
What’s specific about development services industry is the flexibility of the time and place of work. International clients, teams working from different locations (and in different time zones) need a simple way to be on the same page and communicate with the whole team simultaneously. Right now, a communication tool is not only about real-time conversation, but more about multi-channel information exchange. Sometimes it’s necessary to use a selection of tools. At Clickray we use Skype, Google Hangouts or Basecamp features, whatever suits best.
Cloud storage tool
Information exchange I mentioned above doesn’t apply only to communication tools by themselves. In everyday life of companies dealing with development services, there is no place for disappearing email attachments and multiple versions of the same document that get lost between replied and forwarded messages.
Cloud document storage eliminates these flaws and helps improve team productivity. Also, another advantage is that you may provide your client access to essential documentation and maintain transparent communication. For starters, check out Dropbox or Google storage tools.
Your projects might be successful and your clients happy, but this may not be enough to get the business going. Some IT business owners dislike this part, but it’s absolutely necessary: customer relationship management on all levels, from a first-time website visitor to your first client who is still working with you.
CRM consists of activities and tactics including client database management, marketing automation, sales funnel management and inbound marketing in all its diversities. The deal is to build up a system that, once set, collects and manages all the necessary information without your extra effort. One of such tools is HubSpot, the ultimate inbound marketing platform that can be easily adapted for the needs of companies providing software development services.
So, there it is - the basic tool stack for project management, productivity and CRM in software development industry. Of course, there are many more to choose from, feel free to list yours in a comment. What’s your favourite one? Can’t wait to find out!